Headaches are one of the most common health problems that heath professionals treat, but did you know the diagnosis can differ from one person to the next?
Headaches can be painful, irritating, and debilitating. Sometimes, you can make it through the day without a problem, but other times you have to crawl into bed and block out the world.
There are many different kinds and causes of headaches, two of the most common are tension headaches and migraines. Both can range from mild to severe, and can be experienced on one or both sides of the head; however there are some differences that can help determine which kind of headache you have.
Tension headaches are the most common and can make you feel like your head is tight or under pressure; they don’t usually get worse with exertion. The pain may be associated with tenderness of the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders, and can last for a few hours, or even up to a week.
Migraines are usually described as a throbbing sensation, and physical exertion can make the pain worse. The throbbing is believed to be related to blood flow changes in the brain causing irritation and swelling of the blood vessels.
Unlike tension headaches, migraines can cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, smell, and sound. Migraines can be with or without aura; a migraine aura can be any of a collection of neurological symptoms such as numbness, speaking difficulties, vision changes, and tingling, which signal the onset of a migraine.
What causes headaches?
Tension or stress is more likely to cause a tension headache, but there are many triggers for migraines. Certain foods, smells, weather changes, hormones, and a lack of sleep can all cause them.
Diagnosis and treatment
There are no migraine-specific tests, but your Chiropractor may run tests to rule out other conditions. It can be helpful to monitor your headache activity by noting your diet, events, symptoms and medication, before and during your headache.
Determining the cause of your headaches or migraines may involve a process of elimination. Sometimes, it can be as simple as cutting out an ingredient from your diet. While there is no overall cure, doctors will often recommend medication or therapeutic intervention.
If you are suffering from severe, ongoing headaches, or are experiencing head pain with unusual symptoms and a high fever, see your Chiropractor. They can rule out underlying conditions before helping you to manage the pain.
Exercise, such as running, can help you keep fit and active, but what if it’s painful?
Running is a popular form of exercise for many people who want to keep fit, but it involves repetitive impact on the joints which can cause back pain, especially in the lower back. If you already suffer from lower back pain, running may make it worse, or lead to other types of pain, such as sciatica (leg pain, weakness and numbness).
One of the more common types of pain from running is a muscular strain, which can appear as a spasm or ache in your lower back. This type of pain doesn’t travel into the legs or buttocks. Resting, heat or cold therapy, and stretching are some self-care measures that may help relieve muscle strain. If the pain is not alleviated by these measures after two to three weeks, there may be a more serious problem.
Sometimes, back pain can be a sign of a spinal problem, such as degenerative disc disease (DDD), or a herniated disc. Your discs are your lower back’s ‘shock absorbers’; over time, running can cause a high level of stress on these, which can make existing or developing back problems worse. DDD occurs when the disc gradually loses that shock absorbing quality due to wear-and-tear, or injury. A herniated disc is one that has begun to bulge or rupture, which puts pressure on the surrounding nerves.
If you notice that you have ongoing lower back pain after a run, whether it’s muscular or structural, check with a health professional to help diagnose any problems and provide the correct treatment. Running injuries should be treated early before they worsen.
After diagnosis and treatment is in place, some preventative measures may help alleviate pain and discomfort in your legs and lower back:
• Warm up before a run
• Stretch your hamstrings
• Wear comfortable and supportive running shoes
• Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete
• Incorporate muscle toning, strength training and cross-training
See your chiropractor for advice and treatment on how to get you back on track and enjoying your run with minimal, or no pain.
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This colourful spice adds flavour and colour to your meals, but what else could turmeric do for you?
Turmeric has long been considered one of the most beneficial foods in the world, and now shows promising results from many high-quality studies on its health benefits. The roots of the turmeric plant are used fresh, or dried and ground into a powder; both forms have been used in Asia as a medicine and a spice for thousands of years.
One of the compounds that make turmeric so nutritious, and also gives it the orange- yellow colour, is curcumin. Curcumin boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, improves brain function, shows promise in cancer prevention, and much more.
Inflammation is an essential function that helps your body repair damage and fight bacteria. However extensive or chronic inflammation can cause serious health problems. It’s believed that chronic inflammation may contribute to some illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin is powerful in fighting chronic inflammation. Studies show that it can match the effectiveness of some anti- inflammatory drugs.
Brain and heart health
Curcumin can increase the levels of growth hormone in your brain, helping your neurons form new connections. This shows promise for improved learning and memory, and in the prevention of depression.
Curcumin can play a part in heart health by improving the lining of the blood vessels which helps regulate blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation.
We often hear about antioxidants, but what exactly are they? Antioxidants are molecules in our bodies that fight damage caused by unstable molecules (known as free radicals). We need a balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When this balance is disrupted, our health can suffer.
Curcumin is an exceptionally powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals to slow down the aging process, and prevent disease.
Cancer treatment prospects
Intensive studies have shown that curcumin can help reduce the growth of malignant cells in some forms of cancer. Research is in its infancy, but the results are promising.
To reap the health benefits, it’s important to know that it’s not as easy as stocking up on the spice, or heading out for a turmeric latte. The curcumin content in turmeric is a mere three percent, and is also difficult for your body to absorb, so curcumin supplements may be the most effective approach.
Not all curcumin supplements are created equal though, and more evidence on the reported benefits is needed. Some contain other ingredients such as piperine (a compound in black pepper), which can help aid absorption by up to 2,000 percent. Consuming curcumin with a fatty meal could also help, as it is fat soluble.
There’s no denying that turmeric is a delicious and healthy addition to your diet, but too much can sometimes cause stomach irritation, so remember, everything in moderation. Talk to your Chiropractor about whether curcumin supplements would be suitable for you.
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If you suffer from pain in your lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs, could sacroiliitis be the cause?
Sacroiliitis is inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which can affect one or both joints. The sacroiliac joints are at the lower part of your spine where it connects to your pelvic area near your hips.
In general the symptoms of sacroiliitis include pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, knees, and less commonly, feet. Sometimes that pain is accompanied by a mild fever. You may also notice the pain worsening after long periods of standing or putting more weight on one leg than the other, climbing stairs, and taking long strides when running or walking.
There is no single reason why people suffer from sacroiliitis, and it can affect anyone. However, it’s quite common in pregnant women because the body is preparing for a baby, and the hip and sacroiliac joints naturally loosen. Pregnancy can alter the way you walk and cause inflammation, which leads to the condition.
Aside from pregnancy, it can also be caused from gout, joint damage from a fall or accident, or an inflamed sacroiliac joint. Existing back and spine issues, osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory form of arthritis), can also cause sacroiliitis.
Sacroiliitis shares traits with many other lower back pain issues, so it’s advisable to consult your health professional for a correct diagnosis. Once you receive a definite diagnosis for the condition, your treatment type can be determined.
Your Chiropractor may also recommend measures to manage your symptoms such as correcting your posture, stretching to maintain joint flexibility, and strengthening exercises to make your muscles more stable.
As anyone with lower back pain will know, it can take time to find the best sleeping position. But is the one you found comfortable and beneficial?
Not every sleeping position can help relieve back pain, even if it’s the best way for you to fall asleep. A poor sleeping position can aggravate, or even cause lower back pain. The position you choose should maintain the natural curvature of your spine without pressure on your neck, hips, or back.
One of the best ways to sleep is on your back, as this distributes your body weight evenly; and ensures alignment of your head, neck and spine. However, not everyone finds this position comfortable; for additional support place a small pillow under your knees, and fill the gaps between your body and mattress with thin pillows.
If you’re a side sleeper, take care, as sleeping on your side can strain your lower back. To minimise strain and keep your head, shoulders and hips correctly aligned, try sleeping with a firm pillow between your knees, and one to support your head and neck.
If you have a herniated disc, then a curled foetal position may provide relief. Lie on your side with your knees tucked into your chest and your back straight. Support your head and neck with a pillow, and place a firm pillow between your knees.
Sleeping on your front is one of the worst positions, but may benefit people with degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc. Place a thin pillow under your stomach and hips to raise your mid-section and help spinal alignment. You can sleep with your head on a flat pillow, or none at all, but make sure your head isn’t turned to the side, as this can twist the spine.
Your sleeping position, mattress, and pillows all need to work in harmony so that you can sleep comfortably with lower back pain. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort and need advice, speak with our team at Adam's Back.
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Air is the most essential element needed to sustain life.
Fresh air provides you with a steady supply of oxygen which is needed by your brain and every single cell of your body. Every function carried out by the body is directly related to the life of the cells. Cells need four things to live and function properly; oxygen, water, nutrition and cleansing. Without oxygen the cells die in three minutes as it is one chemical essential for the cells to create energy.
How much of your day, each day, is spent outdoors? For many the answer will amount to a bunch of minutes added up as we go from one closed space to another. We live in our homes, we get into our cars on our driveways, we drive to more closed locations and at the end of the day, we come back home. Some of us get better with heading outdoors when the warmer temperatures come, but our body needing fresh air is not a seasonal thing, it’s a daily requirement.
The air that you breathe in any indoor location is not as fresh as your body needs to remain healthy.
If you stay in a closed in area for a long period of time, you will end up breathing in the same air over and over again. The oxygen content of the air will go down. Fresh air is chemically different than the re-circulated indoor air that most people breathe. Breathing this stale air will not supply your body with enough oxygen to keep your cells functioning properly. If you are breathing in stale air, you may suffer from certain health problems such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue and exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, depression, frequent fevers, colds, or lung diseases.
So if you’re feeling any of the above symptoms, open a window, take a short walk outside, and drink a big glass of water. Ventilate your office or house with fresh air frequently! Consider keeping plants in your home and work environment to help improve the air quality. Plants produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Some plants can even remove toxic pollutants from the air. If you can, sleep with your bedroom window open and endeavour to air your home regularly by opening up all the windows and doors.
In large cities, finding clean and fresh air is not an easy task as the natural freshness of air is destroyed by tobacco smoke, city smog, re-circulating air in buildings, improper ventilation, exhaust, and many other pollutants. Spend time in a park or garden with plenty of trees and plants to enjoy good quality fresh air or, if possible, head to the beach. One of the best ways to receive the benefits of fresh air is to go out into the open air and exercise by walking or gardening. This enables the lungs to expand and be filled with oxygen. Getting outdoors to enjoy fresh air should not be a chore, but a privilege!
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When ready to serve, remove from freezer and allow to thaw slightly for about 10-15 mins.
Slice into small portions – remember, although a healthy version, it is still rich.
Serve with more fresh berries.
Caring for your back is just as important as caring for your garden.
When the warmer weather hits, the plants in your garden can take off like they’ve got somewhere better to be. All that’s required is a little sun coupled with a touch of moisture, and your normally- organised garden bed can become a wild jungle only tameable with a steady weeding hand and a wheelbarrow.
When it comes time to get it under control and remove those pesky weeds, it might prove helpful to treat your body like it’s about to undertake an intense training session. Weeding might not seem like a laborious task, but some people may suffer from general muscle soreness and back pain as a result of continuous bending, lifting, weeding, and pruning. Even if you’re only in the garden for a few hours, it never hurts to put steps in place that might help to prevent those aches and pains.
Before you grab the garden spade, do a quick warm-up. Stretching your muscles before you tackle the garden can help warm and loosen them up for the task ahead. Once you’re ready to head outdoors, arm yourself with tools that might make gardening a little more comfortable. For example, a garden hose requires less strength and effort to use than a watering can, and a garden cart can remove the need to lift heavy bags of soil or compost by hand. Every little change in your gardening habits can make your time outside more enjoyable.
It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and forget how long you’ve been pulling weeds, but it might also benefit your body to break up the task into 30-minute sessions. After 30 minutes, take a break, hydrate, and make sure you’re feeling comfortable enough to continue. Always remember to bend your knees when lifting, lift with your legs, keep your back straight and share heavy loads.
Gardening is a fun hobby to have, and forming good habits with proper technique can help to reduce the risk of back pain and/or injury. However, should you find yourself feeling worse for wear after a day of lifting and bending in the garden, your chiropractor is available for consultation.
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Muscles knots can be extremely painful, but there are many ways you can both prevent and treat them.
Muscle knots are muscles fibres that are tight and tense, even when your body is at rest. They may be sensitive to touch, and feel swollen and lumpy. Muscle knots commonly occur in your back, shoulders and neck, and are also known as trigger points. They can cause additional conditions such as headache, toothache, jaw pain, and lower back pain.
Muscle knots can happen for a variety of reasons. Common causes are poor posture, overuse or injury of a muscle, stress, dehydration, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Firstly, take a look at your posture.
If you spend hours at your desk, are you sitting correctly and taking enough breaks? Slouching causes muscle stress which can lead to back pain, so try keeping your back straight, and your head upright in a neutral position.
Moving regularly through everyday activities, or following an exercise plan, helps to keep muscles strong, flexible, and free of tension.
Including gentle stretching into your daily routine will also release tension in your muscles. Activities such as swimming can be beneficial by working the muscles in your neck and shoulders, and improving circulation to these areas.
If you’re not drinking enough water, dehydration may be the cause of your muscle knots. Your water requirement varies depending on factors such as your age, and the amount of exercise you do, but health authorities commonly recommend seven to nine glasses a day. There are many apps you can use to remind you to drink water,
and track your daily intake.
If these preventative measures aren’t working for your muscle knots, then it may be time to seek professional help. Chiropractors may use chiropractic adjustments to address the underlying cause, improve posture and reduce tension in your body. They can also use or recommend other therapies such as massage to relieve immediate pain.
A combination of Chiropractic and Massage can not only help immediate symptoms of muscle knots, but also correct the cause and prevent them from occurring again.
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Do you think that strength training isn’t suitable for you? Find out why it is an essential part of an exercise plan for everybody.
Strength training is not just for body builders; as well as building strength it can help burn calories, reduce body fat, improve tone and lean muscle mass, and increase overall wellbeing.
How does strength training help weight management?
Lean muscle mass reduces with age, and fat can take its place if you don’t strengthen your muscles. Building muscle indirectly increases your metabolism as muscle burns a higher percentage of calories than fat, even at rest.
Develop strong bones
Many of us don't know that strong muscles lead to strong bones. The pulling and pushing on bone from strength training and other weight bearing exercise puts stress on the bone which responds by building new cells. Strong bones can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, and strong muscles can improve balance and stability, therefore lessening the risk of injury from falling.
Help with chronic conditions
Strength training can also help reduce the symptoms of many conditions such as back pain, arthritis, depression and diabetes. Being stronger can increase your energy and improve your ability to do everyday activities which can help keep you mobile and independent.
Do I have to go to the gym and lift weights?
Strength training isn’t all about lifting weights at the gym.Although free weights and weight machines are commonly used, you can also use resistance bands and balls, and your own body weight. Leg squats, pull-ups, push-ups, yoga, and Pilates are all low impact activities that use bodyweight resistance, and can be performed easily at home.
How do I start?
Before you get started, make sure that strength training is right for you. Check with your doctor if you’re over 40, have a chronic condition, or if it has been some time since you exercised.
It is advisable to work with an exercise professional to help you choose the right level and weight, and to learn the correct training techniques. It’s also important to warm up beforehand and have rest days in between workouts.
Strength training doesn’t require hours of weight lifting every day; with a balanced and regular routine you will see improvement in your strength, muscle mass and overall health. See your chiropractor for advice on strength training options for you, and how to lower the risk of injury.
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Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.